I am so glad to have finished my reading challenge of 52 books this year. And indeed, this has been a challenging year in reading and blogging. Blame it on the occasional reading ruts that I have gone through. This does not mean though that I didn’t get to read great books. In fact, there are a number of surprises for this year thanks to the “cheat reads” that I took off my shelf, just so I could reach 52.
On the other hand, quantity should not supersede quality. Yes, I pulled out thin books from my shelf, but these are in the forms of novellas, plays, and poems, forms that I don’t usually read, so it’s not really cheating. As I’ve mentioned, there are surprises.
- Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?; What We Talk About When We Talk About Love; Cathedral; Short Cuts by Raymond Carver – It’s hard to choose among these four, so I’m rolling them into one. Mundane lives of ordinary Americans magnified with such subtlety.
- Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda – Love in its many forms. I Have Gone Marking is my favorite in this collection.
- Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates – On being trapped and on being unable to escape. On feeling superior yet living with the inferiors.
- Mysteries by Knut Hamsun – A man comes to town, causes some controversies, and vanishes like he never was there. He unsettles the people’s peace and steps closer to his own destruction.
- A Personal Matter by Kenzaburo Oe – A man’s life spirals down when he finds out that there’s something hideously wrong with his baby. He turns into alcohol, sex, violence, and would it be too late to turn him away from death?
- This Is Water by David Foster Wallace – A primer on how to deal with the daily frustrations in life. After reading, watch the video.
- On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan – What can the absence of intimacy do to a marriage? How will a frigid woman and an excitable man compromise?
- The History of Love by Nicole Krauss – A girl’s coming-of-age story intertwined with an old man’s reminiscence. It can also be entitled The History of Loneliness.
- Small Memories by José Saramago – Small memories, big love. Saramago’s stories from his childhood are endearing.
- Four Quartets by T. S. Eliot – Time. Art. Humanity. My best read for this year.
- Harry Potter 1, 2, and 3 by J. K. Rowling – I’ve predicted this. I just didn’t find the opportunity.
- How Fiction Works by James Wood – Now I keep thinking about the authorial voice and I think I’m getting a pretty good grasp on it. And yes, all those books referenced makes me want to read them soon.
The Honorable Mentions
- The Fish Can Sing by Halldór Laxness – Would you choose Your Mum’s Lullabye or The Billboard Top 1?
- This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz – A guide for the cheating heart.
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – A literary feast for the young at heart.
- Ulverton by Adam Thorpe – A challenging and haunting read about an uncommon character: the town of Ulverton.
- Dom Casmurro by Machado de Assis – A classic tale of jealousy that seems like it was recently written.
- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – My great expectations were met.
- Steps by Jerzy Kosinski – Disturbing scenes of violent and dark sex.
- The Love of a Good Woman by Alice Munro – A masterful collection from this year’s Nobel laureate in Literature.
- The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster – Of books, writers, writing, spying, and questions on reality.
- The Grass Is Singing by Doris Lessing – A keen observation on the racial divide and tension in apartheid South Africa.
- The Tin Drum by Günter Grass – I recognize Grass’s stylistic prose, but anything overdone is not fun.
- Smaller and Smaller Circles by F. H. Batacan – The pretentious characters didn’t help me in trying to appreciate the suspense/thriller/detective genre.
- The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler – A homophobic misogynist is unlikeable enough. Entangle him in ugly prose and you’ll hurl this outside the window. Coincidentally, it belongs to the same genre as the book above. And yes, this is my worst read for this year.
- Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
- The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
- Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
There you have it. Cheers to all the books that I’ll be encountering in 2014. Happy New Year!